Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gov+creative agency = condom disaster

When broadcast, media types meet new media (often ex BBC/C4 folks) the results can be catastrophic. Witness BBC Jam. But this example, pointed out to me by Graham Brown-Martin is typical of the nonsense that is around at the moment.

The formula is depressingly familiar. Take a Government department and some 50-somethings who opened a Facebook account a couple of weeks ago, give them a social topic, say ‘safe sex’, a whopping big budget, then add a crappy London-based new media company. The result - a top-down, anti-viral, over-designed, expensive disaster.

True story

Let’s start with the stupid slogan for the campaign “Want respect? Use a condom”. It's certainly 'sticky' but it's manufactured, mundane and second-rate. Now let the ‘creatives’ loose and see what they come up with. Wow,check out the mood boards and our fab, innovative viral idea - a ‘drama series’! That’s just soooo clever. OK we know that drama’s expensive, so the budget needs to be around a cool quarter of a million - but don't worry, the kids will luv it. Name for the drama series ‘THMBNIS’. Why? Abbreviation (abrvtns r cool) for THUMNAILS - geddit? Thumbnail drama.


OK, let’s evaluate the campaign. Hailed, of course, as a success by the makers and commissioners, only 5,576 mobile phone users signed up for the crap idea and when you take out the people in the production company, their mates and forced, non-viral subscriptions, you can bet it was a lot lower. That’s £45 of your money per subscriber. The YouTube viewing figures are miniscule and when you watch the episodes you can see why. The usual over-scripted, forced, London slang (Wot r u waitn 4?) nonsense. What teenager wants to watch 22 consecutive videos of a badly scripted moralising drama series? The website is even worse; a desperate attempt to design something ‘cool’ but in fact a slow, confusing mess.

Social Networking is huge and it certainly has a role to play in health issues, but this TV approach is just trite. The culprits in this case: 2020London, Incentivated and the COI. When are they going to learn that social media is driven by user-generated content, not content driven by some crappy creatives who really want to work in film or television.


Dan said...

Hmmm, poorly executed government social media initiatives are not the only hiding place for people who fit the description in your last sentence. I'm not sure there aren't a few like that spread more widely throughout the elearning business.

Donald Clark said...